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Why we need to review how we test for teacher quality

Melissa Barnes and Russell Cross write in The Conversation (23.4.18) that Australia’s decline in international PISA rankings and criticisms of NAPLAN tell us we should also be looking at how we assess teacher quality.

‘With Australia falling further in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings, new debates have emerged about why and who is to blame. Some have made links between the quality of teachers and student outcomes in the rankings.

‘In response to calls for teacher education reform, the government introduced the Literacy and Numeracy Test for Initial Teacher Education (LANTITE) in 2016. It requires teacher education students to reach a certain level of literacy and numeracy before graduating.

‘The LANTITE is said to be modelled on the year nine NAPLAN exam. The Australian Council for Education Research (ACER), a not-for-profit organisation, developed and administer the test.

‘The test is being implemented differently from university to university and there is currently no evidence to suggest this test will ensure Australian schools have high-quality teachers with strong literacy and numeracy skills.

‘With a world education expert calling the NAPLAN writing test “bizarre” and “testing all the wrong things”, it’s timely to also discuss the LANTITE’s purpose and effectiveness as a measure of teacher quality.’

New Education Minister Jason Clare can fix the teacher shortage crisis – but not with Labor’s election plan

Pasi Sahlberg writes in The Conversation (8.6.22) about federal Labor’s plan to address the teacher shortage ‘crisis’ facing Australia’s schools, suggesting there are additional ways to attract and retain more teachers.

‘One of Labor’s key education pledges is A$50 million to encourage school leavers with an ATAR over 80 to study teaching. This is part of the new government’s plan to “fix teacher shortages”.

‘The teacher shortage in Australia has reached crisis levels. But this must be addressed by improving the working conditions for existing teachers, not by cash incentives to university students.

‘Teaching is no longer an attractive profession for many people. Survey after survey of teachers shows how the joy of working with children and for the community has been sucked out of schools. Many teachers feel increasingly stressed, disengaged, and undervalued in their work.

‘… Teaching once was an attractive profession. Making it so again would probably bring some great teachers back to schools. This is the best way to help schools around the country to hit the brakes before more children suffer from absent teachers and school results continue to drop any further.’

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